Initially, this was meant to be a blog about time. How we wanted to spend it, how we could get more of it to spend how we wanted. It’s morphed into personal finance, because the truth of industrialised countries is that you need money to buy time. Of course, we all know that you can’t actually buy EXTRA time. We all have an unknown, set number of years, months, days and hours. For an anxiety inducing graphical representation of the time you possibly have, Wait But Why produced handy checkboxes here.
Even though we measure time as a fixed entity, our perception of it changes. Bored? Time stretches out forever. Having a wonderful time? It flies right by. I wrote a post recently where I bemoaned the fact I was trying to do too much. My perception of the amount of time I had available was causing me stress, and I resolved to cut back on some activities to relieve this stress. Even so, I was still busy doing THINGS. Things I thought were really important, things that had to be done. I had lists of things to be ticked off. I was marking the passage of time using ticks against activities.
Illness and Death
Then a family member became ill. All of a sudden, we were spending every evening after work at hospital. My list making stopped. All of the “essential” activities stopped. Our entire focus narrowed to family. Work continued, and was both a burden and an escape. Over the course of a couple of months, we went from believing we had years left, then suddenly months, weeks, until finally the doctors determined there was nothing they could do and we were looking at days. Their passing away was wholly expected and wholly unexpected at exactly the same time. It’s a paradox our brains are still trying to process.
For the rest of us, life must go on. It must. But there has been a shakeup to my world view. An adjustment to the background of life. How to continue and adjust once a person who was always there isn’t there any more. Self-imposed tasks and deadlines are unimportant in the grand scheme of things. Externally imposed tasks and deadlines become hollow, petty, pointless. But of course, to some extent, they aren’t. To live in our society, you must participate in the structure of that society. You should work if you are able to and need to in order to support yourself. You must pay bills on time to obtain services you require to live. And the activities you choose to perform in your everyday life contribute to the person you are, the person you become, and help build the relationships that make life satisfying. It’s these activities and the relationships you build through them that people will remember you for.
That’s one reason I am back this week with the blog. Is it important? Not at all. I could disappear from the Interwebs, and while there would be questions asked by my Internet friends, no-one’s life would be fundamentally changed. But I am a blogger. I run a WordPress blog. I participate in online communities and I build my web and personal finance skills, hopefully so they can be put to good use some day.
We miss our family member so much.
Change of Job?
At work, I am a tiny cog in a massive project that spans multiple sites across NSW. Each location has a sub-project team to represent themselves. Our location has identified the need for a business analyst and change manager, which were both budgeted for in the project. The problem is, they haven’t been able to recruit a BA. For whatever reason, after two rounds of interviews, they couldn’t find anyone. After that, they identified an internal BA who was coming off another project, but suddenly she fell through as well. The location then approached me to step into the role for 3 months.
I am not a qualified BA, nor have I ever acted in the role, however I do believe I have the skills to be able to perform as required (and even though they are desperate enough to approach me as a last resort, they must feel I have some possibility of success). What has annoyed me, though, is that there is to be no extra remuneration if I take the role. This is despite the budget containing $800/day for the hiring of a BA – on top of my own wage which is already accounted for. Of course I don’t want the full BA wage, I’m not qualified or experienced. However, it is definitely a more challenging, important role within the project, and I was only looking for the equivalent of a $10,000/year increase. That means for the length I am to act in the role, they will not find $2,500 to pay me, despite that equating to 3 days of a budgeted BA. Actually, after writing that, I’m REALLY annoyed.
So I have a choice. I can say no, stay in my substantive role for the sake of $2,500 (less tax, because it would push me into a new tax bracket) and let them find someone else. I won’t lie, I’m tempted. I’m pretty sure it isn’t fair.
However, I’ve decided to say yes, and turn my thoughts away from the extra money. I will look at it like this – I have the opportunity to road-test a brand new career for 3 months, with absolutely no risk. I have insisted that I be given a mentor for the period (it’s common practice to chuck you in at the deep end, sink or swim). I’ve also requested a job description, along with a formal letter recognising that I performed in the role for the period.
I figure either I will decide that I like business analysis, which could lead me to a whole new, and more lucrative career; or, I will determine that I don’t really want to be a Business Analyst, and so not waste my time and money studying for what would turn out to be no real gain. Don’t get me wrong, I think all learning is worth it, but I finished a Graduate Certificate at the end of 2015. I’m not ready to jump back into formal study again without a darn good reason.
Of course, the way things keep changing, they may well still find someone who is qualified and wants to take the role. I’ll let you know what happens.
Wedding and a New Life
This post has been both maudlin, and angry. I’d like to finish off on a more positive note. On the weekend, we attended a wedding at Clontarf. The wedding was a beautifully simple affair, set in a gorgeous location. The weather was perfect, the ceremony honest, authentic and heartfelt. The couple who were married have made the decision that they don’t want to wait for retirement in order to live the life they want.
To this end, they will be leaving their current jobs, house and family in Australia to travel around the world on their motorbikes for 5 years. They have partnered with UNICEF and the Muskoka Foundation to do good while they go. They are actually Mr. ETTs friends, so I am not sure if they are familiar with the world of FIRE. At any rate, they did the maths and are going to try to live their dream. They tell their story much more eloquently than I can:
With respect to barriers, two main themes emerged: debt and fear. It has been confronting yet wonderful to challenge ourselves about how we spend our time earning a living, how we spend what we earn and what it is we fear most. Paul is a whiz at math and soon had a proposal of how we could make it all work, simply by changing our priorities. We had recently bought a home together and are both doing well in our respective careers, so planning a ’round-the-world trip at the moment seemed insane. Once we realized that we could embark on our journey now, rather than later, that no time was perfect, we realized that it was simply a matter of just choosing to go. Choosing not to go now, when we knew that we could …now that was insanity.
On Sunday, I went to the Sci-Fi Collectables Fair at Hurstville. A friend goes regularly, and I like to go with him when I can. I am not looking for anything in particular – I might pick up a few comics or second-hand science fiction novels (triple benefits – great stories that might be out of print, super cheap, and the comforting smell of old book).
We’ve also found a game shop that we visit afterwards. I enjoy perusing all of the board games – this time I purchased Attack on Titan Deck Building Game. We regularly play a couple of deck building games using the Cerberus engine – this one is different in a couple of respects. Firstly, it introduces the concept of position – you have character tokens that move, which influences the cards you are able to collect. Secondly, it is a cooperative game. I have to confess, I enjoy cooperative games more than competitive ones. Cooperative games are where all players have to act together in order to beat the game itself. An excellent one that we always enjoy is Castle Panic – highly recommended! I haven’t had the chance to play Attack on Titan at the time of writing, but it is something I look forward to.
This has been a bit of a meandering post, with no more purpose, I think, than letting me work out my thoughts regarding what has been happening in our lives. Thanks for reading, and hopefully we will return to writing about time and money soon.